Sharp increase in domestic car sales
Domestic car sales in the first eight months this year increased by 19.6% year-on-year to 559,537 units as recovering tourism helped boost demand following the reopening of the country late last year, says the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).
"In August alone, sales in the country soared by 61.7% year-on-year to 68,208 units because there were no lockdown measures like those imposed last year," said Surapong Paisitpatanapong, vice-chairman and spokesman for the FTI's automotive club.
The government enforced lockdown measures between July and August last year to curb the spread of Covid-19, which had been causing a great number of infections during that period.
"It will be a good sign for the industry if domestic car sales continue to increase and automakers also launch new car models into the market," said Mr Surapong.
"We expect the number of cars sold domestically to reach 850,000 at the end of this year."
The FTI is not worried about the high number of cars repossessed following owners' failure to repay their car loans. The federation is upbeat about the recovery of the Thai economy, which will increase people's income, enabling them to settle their debts.
"A better economy will be a factor helping car owners to repay their loans," he said, though a recent report indicated more than 100,000 cars had been repossessed.
Car exports in August rose by 23.1% year-on-year to 73,325 units but decreased by 11.8% from July this year as demand in Europe and the US eased.
According to the club, the country's car production from January to August increased by 10.5% year-on-year to 1,184,800 units.
In August alone, car production increased by 64.9% year-on-year to 171,731 units.
"We already announced last month to revise down the 2022 car production target by 50,000 units, down from 1,800,000 units," said Mr Surapong, in the belief that the target will be achievable.
Of the new target of 1,750,000, some 850,000 units are for domestic sale and 900,000 units for export.